Four Canada Research Chairs renewed at York

The federal government has renewed four Canada Research Chairs (CRC) held by York University. The commitment will enable Professors Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands, Christopher Innes, Leo Panitch and Paul Lovejoy to advance their research in environmental cultural studies, performance and culture, political economy and African diaspora.

As a Tier 2 CRC, Professor Mortimer-Sandilands will receive $500,000 over five years. Each of the other three professors will receive $1.4 million as Tier 1 CRCs. The total awarded to York is $4.7 million.

The renewal is part of a package of CRC appointments announced by Gary Goodyear, minister of state (science & technology), at McGill University on Feb. 23.

"Our government recognizes the important role that research excellence plays in furthering innovation and competitiveness, two main elements in our science and technology strategy," said Goodyear. "This is why we announced a $5.1-billion investment in science and technology in Budget 2009."

Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation at York, said the four CRC renewals will allow York researchers to continue cutting-edge social science and humanities research programs. "Federal research investments are crucial to attracting and retaining the world’s best researchers," said Shapson. "The Canada Research Chairs program allows us to sustain York’s globally competitive research that impacts upon Canadians’ quality of life and the country’s economic and social well-being."

Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands, CRC in Sustainability & Culture, focuses on investigating relations among sustainability, literature and environmental politics. Mortimer-Sandilands has developed an interdisciplinary research network in environmental cultural studies and practices of reading and writing landscape. Her research will explore environmental literature and writing as well as environmental politics and will further develop research activity in environmental cultural studies at York. Her research will also focus on the role of literary activity in the extension of an environmental public sphere.

Christopher Innes, CRC in Performance & Culture, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK), and Distinguished Research Professor at York University. Innes’ research explores popular performance, both on the streets and music theatre, from parades and carnivals to contemporary Broadway/West End Musical, and the unconventional operatic work of Ontario composer and director, Murray Schafer. Other themes in Innes’ research include the role of new media and the expression of religion in theatre. Innes’ research is significant to raising Canada’s cultural profile.

Leo Panitch, CRC in Comparative Political Economy, is a professor of political science at York. Panitch’s research examines the political economy of the informal American empire in the 21st century. In particular, his research centres on "Finance, Production and Empire" fostering a new understanding of the active role of states in the making of global capitalism in the late 20th century. Panitch’s unique research will investigate the American state‘s capacity to contain financial crises and sustain its economic dynamism and the issues associated with maintaining a global capitalist order. Panitch is also the author of numerous articles and books including his most recent Renewing Socialism: Transforming Democracy, Strategy and Imagination (2009).

Paul Lovejoy, CRC in African Diaspora History and director of The Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He is also a Distinguished Research Professor at York and a world-leading slave-trade scholar who has pioneered the study of the history and dynamics of the African diaspora from an African perspective. Through his research, Lovejoy traces the history of migration, from Africa into diaspora, following individual enslaved Africans to their destinations in the Americas. Lovejoy collaborates with an international network of researchers in Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, Brazil, Latin America, Africa and Europe, creating digitized historical data for his unique research.

Researchers at York University have been awarded 28 Canada Research Chairs. The program is designed to attract the best talent from Canada and around the world, helping universities achieve research excellence in natural sciences, engineering, health sciences, social sciences and humanities. For more information, visit the Canada Research Chairs Web site.